Bulgaria’s Cabinet approved on August 30 the annual report on the state of the armed forces, which says that the military can fulfil its constitutional duty but also highlights the main problems as personnel shortages, financial deficiencies and obsolete arms and combat equipment.
For this reason, some tasks are executed with limitations, according to the report.
The report said that in 2016, a total of 258 exercises were carried out by the Bulgarian armed forces, mainly tactical training at battalion and division level.
Bulgarian formations and individual military personnel took part of 14 missions and operations outside the country, by Nato, the EU and the United Nations. In all, 760 military personnel took part.
A total of 100 special disaster relief units maintained sustained readiness, the report said. They carried out a total of 152 operations to assist the population. In these, 815 military and 161 technicians were involved.
More than 2700 soldiers were involved in assisting Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry to guard the border with Turkey in 2016.
The report said that the shortfall in Bulgaria’s armed forces now had reached 20 per cent, in spite of efforts to recruit and retain trained personnel.
There was insufficient provisions of resources for the Bulgarian armed forces and difficulties in maintaining and developing defence capabilities.
A government statement said that the report proposes specific actions in Budget 2018 aimed at launching policies to address the most serious problems of the armed forces as well as on the planned implementation of the 2020 objectives. These are in line with the priorities of the government program in the defence sector, the report said.
“The radically changed security environment also calls for a debate to achieve a lasting political consensus and a national plan to increase the defence budget to two per cent of GDP by 2024, in line with the decisions of the Nato summit in Wales,” the statement said.
Comprehensive measures are also envisaged, related to the implementation of a policy for sustainable career development of the people in defence and the search for opportunities for increasing the pay of service personnel as well as increasing their social status and raising the prestige of the military profession.
In 2017, major efforts will be concentrated on maintaining and developing the necessary capabilities to plan and conduct operations on the three missions of the Armed Forces, the statement said.
The Cabinet recommended that the National Assembly adopt the report.